Justice delayed is justice denied. The overall architecture of criminal justice system in India, cases that run for fifteen to twenty years or more, easy provisions for bail, politically decided paroles are all factors which make justice a distant dream for the law abiding citizen of the country. It also makes justice a luxury for the lower class.
Read the definition of BAIL here. You will immediately realise the wisdom in the saying ‘Money is power’. A suspect should be in jail until the case against him or her is adjudged. But today, the provisions of bail are used flagrantly to undermine justice which is an added frustration to the victim. ‘The Hindu’ today covered the horrifying case of a lady who was sexually harassed for years by some local youth, attacked by acid and is struggling to keep herself alive with no means of subsistence. What happens to the youth who perpetuate such a violent crime? They are out on bail. They are not just out but also sending threatening messages to the victim.
Punishment serves two purposes. It creates a deterrent in the individual minds to desist from doing something that is not taken well by the society. At the same time, the trust of the society in the justice system gets reinforced. The provisions of bail and parole are both working against these two purposes.
It sends a very wrong signal to the society when articles like ‘A. Raja gets a rousing welcome in Tamil Nadu’. The ethos of the society are deeply hurt when criminals like some Kaur of Punjab or some Bhaiyya of Uttar Pradesh or some Kani of Tamil Nadu or Yeddy of Karnataka instead of being punished dilate the process of justice delivery by escaping the odds of punishment. Equality before law remains only on the papers and in the Constitution of India. Practically, there are hundreds of means and thousands of lawyers without conscience who can help one escape punishment.
The government instead of amending laws to make them more favourable to the victims provides a host of exotic instruments like ‘Anticipatory bail’ to help the perpetrators of crime. This has over a period of time led to the criminalisation of politics and we today hear of legislators attending assembly proceedings from Jail.
Bail as a provision has to be provided only when the trial of the suspect cannot be carried out within reasonable time. The judiciary should set standards for itself. In pursuit of absolute justice, one cannot spend a lifetime or cannot even make hasty decisions just to pace up the system. One needs appropriate classification of crimes and cases, and then standards or charters should be made applicable to the judiciary also.
In the garb of independence, judiciary cannot claim to be unaccountable to anyone in this country. We need mechanisms to fix responsibility and accountability in the judiciary and this is better done within the system of the judiciary by the members of the judiciary.
I might have sounded pessimistic above but this is the truth and truth is bitter. We better face it.